Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Gluten-Free Shopping 101

By Rachael Gruver, October 5, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Rachael Gruver

If you pay attention to food trends, it’s hard not to notice that a lot of people are going “gluten free” these days. So, what does that mean exactly? Gluten refers to proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats. Although oats do not actually have gluten proteins themselves, they can often be cross-contaminated with gluten-containing grains during harvest, storage or processing.

Why are so many folks opting to go gluten free? Some people suffer from a condition known as Celiac Disease, for whom exposure to gluten can be life threatening.  Others give up gluten because they have gluten sensitivities, which can result in a range of reactions from mild to severe, and some people find it just makes them feel better overall to cut gluten proteins out of their diets.

If you read my Food Allergies 101 piece last month, then you’re up to speed on the FDA’s “Top 8” allergens. Although wheat is one of the “Top 8”, the allergen labeling law does not apply to other gluten-containing grains. There are no requirements set forth by the FDA for manufacturers to list gluten on product packaging, or to call out gluten-containing grains like barley or rye by their common name on an ingredient list.

So what’s a gluten-free guy or gal to do? At Whole Foods Market® we have tons of gluten-free options, and resources to help you shop.

We have a dedicated Gluten Free Bakehouse that makes breads and sweet treats, and their products are available at all of our US and Canadian stores. On the labels of our 365 Everyday Value® and Whole Foods Market brand products, we call out rye, barley and oats in our ingredients statements. This is true for gluten-containing sub-ingredients as well.  For example, if the natural flavors in a product include barley, the ingredient statement would read: “…natural flavors (barley)…”

You might also want to check out our Gluten Free Special Diets shopping lists. We have a gluten-free product list tailored to each of our store locations. These can be viewed and printed out from your local store’s information page on our website. Some stores may also have these products in a gluten-free aisle.

We have many more tips and more than 1000 gluten-free recipes here on our website. You can search for recipes using our advanced recipe search and filter down to only recipes that are gluten free. You can also learn more about gluten-free products and resources on our special diets webpage.  

You can be sure also that “gluten free” has a meaningful definition at Whole Foods Market. We feel a gluten-free claim should mean that the gluten level in the product is below 20 ppm (parts per million), and that any product that makes gluten-free claims must have these claims substantiated by quality assurance and testing protocols that verify the gluten level.  Each and every product with a gluten-free shelf tag and all of the products on our Gluten-Free Special Diets lists have been reviewed by Team Members here at our headquarters to ensure they meet these guidelines.

Do you follow a gluten-free diet? What are some of your favorite gluten-free foods?

Category: Special Diets




Katie says ...
Hello, I have Celiac Disease, so I stay away from all foods and products with gluten. I have been looking for a ready-made pie crust (the thaw out/roll out kind like Pillsbury makes...but gluten free). Do you carry this kind of item in your Swampscott, MA store? Thanks! Katie
10/05/2012 12:06:34 PM CDT
Catherine says ...
I cannot shop in the prepared food section at the Whole Foods near my house because the staff there, including the chefs, can't tell me what's gluten free. In fact, several of the staff didn't even know what gluten is; one went back to ask the chef, came back and said, "you can't eat any thing here, everything has gluten." Simply not true. Uninformed staff.
10/06/2012 3:20:30 PM CDT
jane Harper says ...
I live in the UK and recently began following a GF diet . Do you have any of your stores in England? My favourite foods are pasta, cereals, and cakes. Finding good bread can be a challenge.
10/08/2012 5:04:50 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JANE - We do have a few locations in the UK. You can find an entire UK store list at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list/uk. Some store locations offer a GF product list on their website. Good luck!
10/08/2012 5:25:14 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@KATIE - Thanks for your question. As our products vary between locations, I would encourage you to reach out to Swampscott directly at 781.592.2200 to see what GF pie crusts they have in stock!
10/08/2012 5:28:39 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CATHERINE - Thanks for letting us know about this. We can't say our Prepared Foods are "Gluten-Free" because they are all made in kitchens that also make recipes with gluten ingredients. Our Team Members should be able to answer any questions about the ingredients in certain products, and I am sorry that was not your experience. If you could tell is which store you shop, we will follow up with them to make sure their Team Members are better informed.
10/10/2012 10:28:14 AM CDT
Mark says ...
I saw on your website that your stores carry fresh baked GF goods, however when I asked in two of your Westchester NY stores they had no clue as to what I was talking about. They pointed me to the frozen foods asile, you would think at WF we could have a better alternative.
10/10/2012 6:26:17 PM CDT
Elisa Solorzano says ...
I love to cook but not great at baking.... I LOVED the WF GF pie crust and they seem to be discontinued! Help!
10/11/2012 10:48:03 AM CDT
Heather says ...
I just got diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and I just want to say thank you Whole Foods.
12/01/2012 10:50:51 AM CST
Marylynn says ...
My husband has Eosinophilic Esophagitis, which is most likely caused by an allergic reaction to gluten proteins. I was happy to hear that WF has a large gluten-free section - I will be checking out a store soon!
02/20/2013 11:13:52 AM CST
Cathy says ...
I can't seem find the list of gluten-free products for my store, Bridgeport (Portland OR). when I asked for one in the store, I was told they don't have one! Also, no one at the deli/prepared foods counter can tell me anything about the food. I went there hoping to pick up lunch and left empty handed and very disappointed .
06/13/2013 2:42:41 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CATHY - You can find a gluten free product list on their store page at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/tigard. Look at the bottom right of the page under, Unique to Your Store. Regarding the Prepared Food/Deli section, we do not have dedicated gluten free kitchens so the deli items cannot be labeled as gluten free.
06/13/2013 5:11:38 PM CDT
shelia savoie says ...
My 9yr old grandson was just diagnosed with celiac disease. We are overwhelmed with what is truly gluten-free and cross contamination.
12/07/2013 1:52:59 PM CST
Kate says ...
I am SO disappointed that your bulk items are cross-contaminated, thus making it impossible for anyone with food gluten, soy, nut, or dairy allergies to eat them. Often, they are the only items of their kind in the store, so there's no packaged GF alternative. Here in Portland, Main, the Whole Foods clearly labels them, so I avoid them, but it's frustrating.
01/02/2014 4:41:48 PM CST
bakergrinch says ...
I am very sensitive to gluten, and did not know that a list of gluten free products for individual stores was available for use. very good article
01/14/2015 6:38:14 PM CST